For the first time since the novel coronavirus arrived in the United States, the nation has topped 50,000 new infections for a single day.
Wednesday's record-setting figures were led by California, which posted 9,740 new cases, according to The Covid Tracking Project operated by The Atlantic magazine, followed by the southwestern state of Texas with 8,076. The southeastern state of Florida was third with 6,563, with the southwestern state of Arizona close behind with 4,877.
Other states with record new one-day coronavirus infections Wednesday were Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee.
The record number of new infections is accompanied by a new high for current hospitalizations in eight states, with Texas reporting 6,904 patients Wednesday. The situation has created a crisis in one of the nation's largest states, with some hospitals reaching near-capacity.
California's increasing rate of infections has prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to revive the sweeping restrictions imposed statewide at the start of the outbreak, to shut down bars and theaters and halt indoor dining in 19 counties, reviving the sweeping restrictions imposed statewide at the start of the outbreak.
Elsewhere in the United States, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has put plans to reopen indoor dining rooms on hold because of a possibility of infected people from elsewhere flocking into the city. And Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued a statewide order Wednesday mandating that everyone wear face masks.
Risks of 'fragmented approach'
Wednesday's record day of new infections in the United States came a day after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a U.S. Senate committee that the current rate of new infections could more than double to 100,000 a day if the current surge is not contained.
The World Health Organization says 60 percent of the world's 10 million coronavirus cases since December came in the month of June - a sign that the pandemic is getting worse and not slowing down.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that more than 160,000 new cases are reported every day.
He said countries must take what he calls a "comprehensive approach" in battling the virus.
"Find, isolate, test and care for every case; trace and quarantine every contact; equip and train health workers; and educate and empower communities to protect themselves and others," Tedros said.
He added that those countries taking a "fragmented approach" have a "long, hard road ahead."
"Not testing alone. Not physical distancing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not masks alone. Do it all," Tedros said. He said one of the lessons learned in the past six months is that "it's never too late ... no matter what situation a country is in, it can be turned around."
Tedros pointed out that wearing masks saves lives. U.S. President Donald Trump has yet to be seen wearing one in public. But after months of dismissing the idea of masks, Trump said Wednesday he would now have "no problem" putting one on.
"If I were in a tight situation with people, I would, absolutely," the president told Fox Business news.
"I'm all for masks. I think masks are good. Actually, I had a mask on. I sort of liked the way I looked. It was OK. It was a dark, black mask, and I thought it looked OK. ... If people feel good about it they should do it."
But Trump said he doubts wearing them should be mandatory and repeated his belief that COVID-19 will just "disappear" at some point. But medical experts say they believe the virus is here to stay, just like the virus that causes the common cold.
Security lapses allegations
In Australia, officials in the state of Victoria have launched a probe into that government's disastrous hotel quarantine program. Allegations have surfaced of security lapses at hotels used to quarantine visitors and Australians returning home from overseas, including undertrained staff, misuse of personal protective equipment, allowing quarantined families to leave the hotels, and even claims guards slept with guests.
The security breaches have been tied to a resurgence of new coronavirus infections in Melbourne in recent weeks.
New Zealand Health Minister David Clark resigned Thursday after coming under fire for breaching the country's strict restrictions imposed at the outset of the pandemic in March. Clark initially submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in April after he was spotted biking and visiting the beach with his family, but Ardern rejected it, citing his role in the government's successful response to the outbreak.
Ardern lifted nearly all restrictions in June after declaring the virus had been eliminated, earning New Zealand international praise. But the government's efforts have suffered a setback after travelers who left quarantine after entering the country tested positive for the virus.